I Link

I haven't linked to Andew Sullivan in ages. Since after he lost his cahones about the War in Iraq. Well I'm linking today. And to what? This article on the changed situation in Iraq, suggested by Jennifer Rubin of Commentary. Via Instapundit. I'm sure this is white hot because in some respects it represents Andrew's return to sanity. We will see if I can shed some light on it from a different angle. Or from the same angle. Depending.

Here is what Andrew Said that got him a link:

Petraeus deserves the lion's share of the credit; luck and time and the self-defeating nihilism of the Jihadists have helped. But Bush and McCain equally merit points for pursuing the surge, even though the metrics pointed to failure. Obama needs to capitalize on these gains, not dismiss them.
Props where they are due. That is an astounding turn around for Andrew. He finally gets it. Even if the War was a mistake a self governing, independent, prosperous Iraq is a good thing.

Now what about Obama? Boy, is the Good Judgement Man™ ever in trouble. He has been talking defeat in Iraq since forever. Whoops. McCain on the other hand has the distinction that, despite the unpopularity of his position, he was right. I predict a pivot - "I never knew how really vile those jihadis were. And I repudiate them for their obvious misjudgment. I have always been in favor of good relations with the Government of Iraq and no Republican is going to stand in the way of my achieving that goal. There are a number of companies in Chicago that would be excellent help in the effort to rebuild Iraq and they will have all my support." Aside to staff: " &#(*^@!~& Axelrod, where are my G-d Damn Tickets to Iraq?"

You know, I don't think Barry is going to have a cake walk.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

Welcome Instapundit readers. You may also be amused by our Congress. I know I am.

posted by Simon on 06.03.08 at 04:44 AM










Comments

Leave it to the hapless McCain campaign to find a way to not grind Obama's nose into the dust when he has to make his inevitable flip flop on the surge.

Andrew's like the mine canary. You know it's coming.

section9   ·  June 3, 2008 11:09 AM

Of course, as is typical for Sullivan, he was for the war before he was against it before he was for it. I don't know that this latest about-face counts for much, given how likely he is to reverse his opinion again with some important new information like, say, Petraeus revealing that he supports an anti-gay-marriage amendment.

Floyd   ·  June 3, 2008 11:38 AM

The word you want is 'cojones', not 'cahones'.

pwyll   ·  June 3, 2008 11:46 AM

Good Lord, the word is cojones. It means testicles (in Spanish).

There's no such word as cahones, but cajones means boxes. He lost his boxes about the war in Iraq?

Sorry. One of my pet peeves.

John S.   ·  June 3, 2008 11:49 AM

Well, as the old saying goes, "don't like Andrew Sullivan's position on an issue? Wait five minutes or until a Republican says something about gay marriage, whichever comes first.

AK   ·  June 3, 2008 11:51 AM

Obama will blame his staff for misinterpreting his position on Iraq, and force one of the middle ranks to publicly walk the plank.

Scott Kirwin   ·  June 3, 2008 11:53 AM

Sullivan didn't suddenly "get it", he's simply drifting the way the wind is blowing. The same lack of conviction that caused him to abandon the war at the first sign of difficulty is bringing him back when things are looking up. Sullivan lost his credibility a long time ago and it would be a mistake for anybody to welcome him back.

He's one well placed suicide bomber away from denouncing all efforts in Iraq yet again.

beb   ·  June 3, 2008 12:08 PM

How can a turnaround be "astounding" if made by Andrew Sullivan? He was for the war before he was against it before he was for it.
Oh, I was about to hit "post" when I saw Floyd beat me to this very statement. But, ya know what? It bears repeating. "post"

Jim O'Sullivan   ·  June 3, 2008 12:20 PM

This is hardly a turnaround. Sullivan does little more than acknowledge the successes of the surge to this point. If you read the rest of his post, he remarks that this is all the more reason for an expeditious withdraw. In essence, he is telling Obama to acknowledge the success of the surge and use that as a cover. Iraq is relatively peaceful, so let's call the war a mistake and get out before anything else can happen that would show that an immediate withdraw would have severe consequences.

Sullivan is placing his judgement on the war - that it was wrong at inception - as the central issue instead of looking at the larger context of what will happen in the event of an immediate drawdown, such as whether Iran will step up efforts to Lebanize Iraq. That is just one point among numerous other critical ramifications that Sullivan ignores in his desire to call the war a failure rather than exploit the success of the surge to this point.

Sullivan is still wedded to the belief that Iraq was wrong at inception and he wants to leave as fast as possible. His acknowledgment of the success of the surge is nothing more than tactical at best. If you are linking to him because you think he has had a sudden bout with reality, be advised that the reality is still far weaker than his ideologicl stance.

GW   ·  June 3, 2008 12:26 PM

I predict that Obama's speech signaling his change of heart on Iraq will be hailed by the MSM as worthy of Cicero.

Err, Cicero the orator from Ancient Greece, not Cicero, IL.

K T Cat   ·  June 3, 2008 12:26 PM

But Bush and McCain equally merit points for pursuing the surge, even though the metrics pointed to failure.

Metrics pointing to failure? This is Sullivan's way of saying that he ought to have been right, but Bush and Co. got lucky and beat the odds. He's saying they gambled and won, not that they played wisely. This is far different from any sort of change of heart. It is also poor thinking on Sullivan's part.

Jeff the Baptist   ·  June 3, 2008 12:49 PM

"To see victory only when it is obvious to the common herd is not the height of excellence" - Sun Tzu "The Art of War."

moptop   ·  June 3, 2008 1:12 PM

By the way, the "height of excellence" is the excellence required of an effective leader. I think the quote applies to both Sullivan as a dig, and Obama, as an insight into his failings as a leader.

moptop   ·  June 3, 2008 1:22 PM

I'm glad I had the sense to stop paying any attention to Sullivan four years ago. From the looks of it, I haven't missed much except for more embarrassing attempts to rationalize his changed views.

Kurt   ·  June 3, 2008 1:31 PM

Of course Sullivan spent most of 2004 and 2005 five argueing for more troops and castigating Bush for not sending enough people. Then in 2006, when Bush did what Sullivan had been urging for two years, "all the metrics pointed to failure". I am not sure if Sullivan is just an excitable queer or utterly devoid of intellectual integrity.

John   ·  June 3, 2008 1:33 PM

Actually, I agree with Andrew. The metrics DID point to defeat. The difference between us is, I understand this generally happens at least once (often repeatedly) in the course of a war.

The usual response is a shift in tactics and/or strategy, not surrender. That is the part that people like Andrew (and the Democratic half of Congress) failed to understand.

jvon   ·  June 3, 2008 1:49 PM

Metrics pointing to failure? This is Sullivan's way of saying that he ought to have been right, but Bush and Co. got lucky and beat the odds. He's saying they gambled and won, not that they played wisely. This is far different from any sort of change of heart. It is also poor thinking on Sullivan's part.

Indeed. Sullivan needs to remind himself again of Napoleon's maxim (paraphrased by Dwight D. Eisenhower):

"I would rather have a lucky general than a smart general.... They win battles, and they make me lucky."

MarkJ   ·  June 3, 2008 1:51 PM

I have to disagree with your take on Sullivan. What he evinces is hardly a return to sanity. It is nothing more than a tactical recoginition of reality. Sullivan can still not get beyond the paradigm that the war in Iraq was wrong and must be treated as such. Indeed, in the remainder of the post you link, he argues for expeditious withdraw, presumably using the success of the surge as cover to get out while it can be said that Iraq is relatively peacefull and at least superficially stable. The emphasis is on "superficial" - because of Iran.

If Sullivan had returned to sanity, he would consider the ramifications of an "expeditious withdraw" in terms of the dynamic between Iran and Iraq, the larger strategic questions in the Middle East, etc. If Sullivan was sane, he would take stock of the surge within the world as it exists in 2008, not within the context of decisions made in 2003.

For what its worth, I wrote a post not long ago (its a bit over the top as I wrote it for the Carnival of the Insanities) that has several links to great posts at the Atlantic and from an Col. McMaster speech that discuss the current situation in Iraq and the Iranian involvement. http://wolfhowling.blogspot.com/2008/05/pelosi-crosses-line.html
Under those circumstances, if Sullivan is calling for expeditious withdraw because the war was wrong at inception, you are, I submit, mistaking sanity mere ideologically driven tactics.

GW   ·  June 3, 2008 2:06 PM

I have to disagree with your take on Sullivan. What he evinces is hardly a return to sanity. It is nothing more than a tactical recoginition of reality. Sullivan can still not get beyond the paradigm that the war in Iraq was wrong and must be treated as such. Indeed, in the remainder of the post you link, he argues for expeditious withdraw, presumably using the success of the surge as cover to get out while it can be said that Iraq is relatively peacefull and at least superficially stable. The emphasis is on "superficial" - because of Iran.

If Sullivan had returned to sanity, he would consider the ramifications of an "expeditious withdraw" in terms of the dynamic between Iran and Iraq, the larger strategic questions in the Middle East, etc. If Sullivan was sane, he would take stock of the surge within the world as it exists in 2008, not within the context of decisions made in 2003.

For what its worth, I wrote a post not long ago (its a bit over the top as I wrote it for the Carnival of the Insanities) that has several links to great posts at the Atlantic and from an Col. McMaster speech that discuss the current situation in Iraq and the Iranian involvement. http://wolfhowling.blogspot.com/2008/05/pelosi-crosses-line.html
Under those circumstances, if Sullivan is calling for expeditious withdraw because the war was wrong at inception, you are, I submit, mistaking sanity mere ideologically driven tactics.

GW   ·  June 3, 2008 2:07 PM

Floyd and beb echo my thoughts exactly. Sully gets no props from me on this issue -- his thoughts on Iraq have always been whatever's easiest at any given point in time.

It's easy to say what he's saying now -- if we'd have followed his preferred courses throughout the last 5 years of history, we have repeated Vietnam all over again -- started a war on foreign soil and left licking our wounds.

Contrarian_Libertarian   ·  June 3, 2008 2:13 PM

What makes anybody think Obama will ever learn we're winning in Iraq? Where would he learn it from? The media? Academia? Fellow activists? His church? Where?

The only people telling the truth about the war in Iraq are the military, conservatives, and a small crew of bloggers, like Michael Yon. What Democrat, let alone lefty radicals, listens to THEM? The Democrats are emotionally committed to losing in Iraq and the facts be damned. Iraq is Vietnam and so is Iran, too, one day.

Obama is playing to those irrational liberal sentiments. Who among the radical left is willing to admit America did something right or that an American victory is good? If Obama did, he'd be branded a sellout.

The wonderful thing about the defeatist position of the Democrats is that they intend to ride it all the way to their own defeat in November, tethered to it like Captain Ahab to Moby Dick with their own harpoons. By election time, the imminent victory will be blatant enough to be understood by sensible voters in the middle, who will tip the race to McCain.

And after we win in Iraq, Obama and the Democrats will claim they were for the war all along, just like Clinton and the Democrats claimed they opposed the Soviet Union all along, even harder than the Republicans even. After all, if you were a Democrat, would you want to tell the truth about your history of bad judgement?

Tantor   ·  June 3, 2008 2:22 PM

Tantor, actually I disagree with this. I honestly don't think a perceived victory in Iraq will be politically good for McCain/Republicans or politically bad for Obama/Democrats...even if the Democrats remain tethered to the narrative of failure.

The reason is that voters tend to think more in turning pages than they do in rewarding politicians for a job well done.

I think John McCain, wary as I am of him, has a unique story on Iraq -- in that he became loudly critical of its execution without joining the likes of Sen. Hagel and virtually all Democrats who had supported it in taking a saw to the branch they had once walked out on with GWB.

The only other elected official I can think of who can lay claim to this unique position -- of being neither supine apologist nor weak-kneed-runner-for-the-hills -- is Joe Lieberman.

McCain shared the frustrations that many people had with the progression of the implemented policy. And he took a lot of heat from Republicans for saying, among other things, that Donald Rumsfeld needed to be replaced.

While instinct would tell you that voters would reward John McCain for his courage, foresight, and perseverance, it's hard to find a historical precedent since Ulysses S. Grant.

Truman probably comes the closest -- though he had the benefit of a party that was probably twice the size of his competition's in 1948.

Contrarian_Libertarian   ·  June 3, 2008 2:51 PM

I'm curious about how history will portray Bush on the surge...

a)the only clear choice of action, under the realization that to let the country burn would be inviting long term disaster from the humiliation.

b)hail mary, full of grace...

Had the democrats actually supported withdrawal, instead of mouthing it to their looney base, I'd have picked B.

paul   ·  June 3, 2008 3:29 PM

And another thing. An unspoken assumption of all of these comments, including mine, is that what Sullivan writes today, and whether it's consistent with what he wrote yesterday, is important. Aren't we flattering him a bit too much with that assumption.

Jim O'Sullivan   ·  June 3, 2008 4:45 PM

Actually, I agree with Andrew. The metrics DID point to defeat. The difference between us is, I understand this generally happens at least once (often repeatedly) in the course of a war.

You're right about wars having back and forth, but you're wrong about the metrics.

Things looked bad when, for instance, casualty numbers were increasing every month. But when you look at those numbers, you have to consider the kind of damage the military can take. It's a war of attrition. Is the enemy hurting you badly enough that you can't sustain operations? Never happened. Have they destroyed your morale? No. While there was a period where we were making little net progress in the field, things would have had to escalate badly for the US to be in serious danger of losing the war there. The only real way to lose in Iraq has been if we lost our nerve at home.

What the metrics told me is that analysts like Andrew Sullivan are doing very shallow work and perhaps don't know their subject well enough.

Jeff the Baptist   ·  June 3, 2008 5:10 PM

What Jim O'Sullivan said.

moptop   ·  June 3, 2008 5:11 PM

Good post.

An explanation of Andrew Sullivan's strange transformation can be found here:

http://theobamamonitor.blogspot.com/2008/05/synchophant-explained.html

RBeck   ·  June 3, 2008 5:21 PM

I'm curious about how history will portray Bush on the surge...

My guess:

"After steep Republican loses in the 2006 congressional elections, the Administration realized that a change in Iraq War policy was necessary. The Administration co-opted a policy suggested by critics earlier in the war and increased troop levels. This combined with new anti-insurgent warfare techniques, staff changes at the cabinet and command levels, and Iraqi reaction to insurgent extremism created real progress on the ground that was undeniable by 2008."

If the conservatives are lucky historians will note that Democrat opposition to their own proposed policy was foolhardy and that the national media was slow to cover progress in the war.

Part of me wonders if George W. Bush will be the Harry Truman of the Republican Party. Truman was incredibly unpopular during his own presidency, but historians considered him a much better president in hindsight. Carter actually modeled his presidency after Truman. Hopefully no Republican will make that mistake with W.

Jeff the Baptist   ·  June 3, 2008 5:34 PM

K T Cat,

Marcus Tullius Cicero was ROMAN, not Greek. Sorry to be a pedant, but this is Classical Values, after all.

||

parallel   ·  June 4, 2008 5:31 AM

How could one NOT be against the war when Bush was running it and refusing to listen to any of his generals on ways to improve it? The war will only be a success as long as we're there to provide stability in Iraq and as soon as we leave and bring our troops home, the whole place could go up again or Iran will march in to replace us. We're looking at spending billions a year for the foreseeable near future to occupy a country who, if not already tired of having us there, will get fed up with the US presence and ask us to leave. At some point there will be chaos; what will we do then?

Anthony   ·  June 4, 2008 1:03 PM

Anthony says:

At some point there will be chaos; what will we do then?

Quell it. Just as we have done recently.

M. Simon   ·  June 4, 2008 2:53 PM

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